One very interesting aviation fad from the 1950s – 1960s were the “flying platform”
& a related “flying jeep”
. These were very small rotorcraft, largely based on special ducted props. These flying platforms carried one soldier and they also seemed ideal for scout missions. On the other hand, the much larger flying jeep seemed potentially useful for various applications.While these flying platforms & jeeps had some distinct advantages, they did not really catch on at all. Very recently, some work has been carried out on UAV’s
and there have been some flying platform innovations that have come to the fore- mostly for recreational and civil use- but these too have proved to be duds.
The Natural Course of Evolution
The yesteryear flying platforms grew out of some research that was conducted by the United States- National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics or NACA, in the early 1950s. The idea was that these 1-man flying platforms
will be used in combat. The tests that had been carried out then, involved pilots “flying” these tethered platforms, at 1st lifted by compressed air, & later by rotors. These platforms were steered by what was referred to as “kinesthetic control” and the pilot had to simply shift his/her weight to change direction.
Hiller, de Lackner and Bensen were the 3 companies that released prototypes. Some accidents and safety concerns later, the idea of these Helivectors / Aerocycles were scrapped. Today, the one and only prototype of this fascinating experiment is ensconced in an aviation museum. But the concept was definitely a stepping stone for the aircraft technology that evolved.